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1992 …2024

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Personal profile

Biography

I am a Monash Warwick Alliance Joint Professor of Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, Head of the Health and Social Care Unit, and Co-Lead of the Division of Evidence Synthesis, Qualitative and Implementation Methods, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University.

I am also:

  • Chair, Parent Infant Research Institute Board (2019 -)
  • Director of the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Health in Preconception and Pregnancy (CRE HiPP 2020-2024)
  • Invited member, CALD Communities COVID-19 National Health Advisory Group (2020 - )
  • Board Director Elect and Secretary, Global Implementation Society (2021 - )
  • Member of the ARC College of Experts (2021- )
  • EDITOR IN CHIEF, Health & Social Care in the Community (2022 - )
  • Inaugural executive member of the National Multicultural Health Collaborative and
  • Lead, Collaborative Research and Data Working Group (2022 - )
  • Invited member, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth Research Committee, Federal DET (2023- )

Trained as a developmental psychologist, I have a strong track record in longitudinal multi-factorial research, randomised controlled trials, implementation research and higher degree research supervision. My research since 2010 has been predominantly focused on promoting health and wellbeing across preconception, pregnancy, preschool, and childhood, including adolescence, to create the best start in life for all children. 

In 2017 I came to Monash University with a team of 8 to take up the inaugural role of Monash Warwick Alliance Professor in Health and Social Improvement and Implementation Science. I identified the need to work in collaboration with, and in an integrated way across, the health, community and social services, and education sectors to promote health and wellbeing. I also identified gaps in methodological expertise, including research capability in implementation science and consumer engagement and involvement, as well as a dearth of multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral expertise to deliver research more effectively and a lack of diversity in postdoctoral researchers. My work in this area has seen 9-fold growth at Monash with the establishment of an independent Health and Social Care Unit at the end of 2020, that I lead. This is the first Health and Social Care Unit in a Faculty of Medicine. 

As Head of the Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU, https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/units/health-and-social-care), my multidisciplinary team drives and models our co-developed HSCU Strategy that informs the research we do, with equity at the heart of intersectionality, capacity building, collaboration, and innovation for impact and with an unrivalled commitment to consumer and community involvement (CCI). Born from a participatory ethos whereby we conduct our research to generate knowledge for, and through, action in service of the specific goals of industry partners and their communities, the HSCU team translate research work in ways that are meaningful for their audiences to help them use the findings to generate real-world impact.

In 2021 we launched the HSCU Professional Learning and Development Program that is aligned to the needs of industry partners and representatives through co-design with them; has micro-credentialing options for participants considering further study; provides built-in supports for participants (e.g., drop-in sessions, tailored booster sessions, etc); and includes: 6 short courses (with optional credentialing); monthly research seminars; and other education events. These courses include: 

  • Qualitative Research Methods for Public Health
  • Designing and Using Surveys and Questionnaires for Clinical Practice
  • Engaging with Others to (re)Design Approaches to Health and Social Care
  • Evaluating Public Health Programs
  • Program Development Using Intervention Mapping
  • Behaviour Change and Implementation Science for Health and Social Care Improvement 

(see also: https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/study/professional-education)

In research, I have a strong track record of leading and collaborating on Category 1 funded grants. I am/have been a Chief Investigator (CI) on:

  • 5 x ARC Linkage Projects (3 x CIA)
  • 7 x ARC Discovery Projects (4 x CIA; 2 x CIB)
  • 3 x NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence (1 x CIA,, 1 x CIB)
  • 2 x NHMRC Project grants (1 x CIA)
  • 1 NHMRC Partnership grant (CIB)
  • 1 x Heart Foundation; 3 x Rotary Mental Health grants
  • 5 x Medical Research Future Funding grants (2 x co-lead)
  • 1 x EU 2020 Horizons National Health and Medical Research Council Collaborative Grant
  • 1 x UK Economic Social Research Council Grant

I and my HSCU team have received substantial government and industry research funding to develop and/or evaluate intervention programs and to build the evidence base needed to support large scale implementation and ongoing program funding. Highlighted below are examples of our work in community service and educational sector improvement that translates to better health and social outcomes for children, young people, adults, and families and is critical to transforming policy across these sectors:

a) work with Anglicare that led to the evidence needed to classify the Whizz Kids program (a supported playgroup and home-visiting program run with highly vulnerable and socially isolated parents with pre-school children) as a promising practice by the Australian Institute of Family studies, and to secure ongoing funding to Anglicare for TRAK Forward (a therapeutic program for families that have experienced family violence) in three Department of Health and Human Services regions of Victoria.

b) work with First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing led to the development, delivery and evaluation of a new co- designed Aboriginal-specific Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Outreach service. This Aboriginal led work by members of my team commenced with a systematic literature review revealing a limited evidence-base for such community- based outreach services/programs and resulted in ongoing government funding for an AOD worker.

c) work with Baptcare to support the implementation and evaluation of their mental health programs in Tasmania; the evidence my team has amassed has resulted in ongoing State and Commonwealth funding to Baptcare, a Medical Research Future Funding grant (2019-2020) to develop MyCare Ageing with Alfred, Monash and Peninsula Health and with Baptcare as the community partner (MyCare Ageing is a volunteer-led companionship and transitional support program for older adults in Victoria with dementia and/or delirium), and a NHMRC Investigator Grant to Associate Professor Darsh Ayton, Deputy Head of HSCU, to evaluate MyCare Ageing.

d) work with MacKillop Family Services to generate the evidence base for the Sanctuary Model and support the implementation and evaluation of this whole of organisational approach to create a safe, non-violent environment that fosters the relationships we teach people to cope more effectively with stress and trauma, has led to: (i) 1 PhD completion, and 2 current PhD students all funded by MacKillop; (ii) state-wide scale up of the Sanctuary Model in the out-of-home care sector in South Australia; (iii) the translation of this model into the education sector with scale up across the Catholic Education system in primary schools in Victoria.

I have led and/or I am currently a chief investigator on 6 Category 1 Linkage/Partnership grants and have led  >60 industry research projects over the last 5 years. Four PhD students and 7 postdoctoral fellows are funded by and embedded in industry (researcher in residence model) with the base being my Health and Social Care Unit at Monash. Further examples of how I and my HSCU team extend and apply our research expertise to populations experiencing disadvantage and vulnerability, include: families churning in and out of the child protection system (work with Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services); women who are experiencing domestic violence (work with Good Shepherd); men who are the perpetrators of family violence and are engaged in Men’s Behaviour Change programs (work with Relationships Australia Victoria); and young parents, their babies and extended families engaged in the Cradle to Kinder program, a specialist early intervention support program for vulnerable young mothers, fathers and their children designed to prevent children entering the out-of-home care system and provide families with the skills to raise healthy children (work with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and with MacKillop). These examples involve research translation and are therefore ‘solution-’ rather than ‘problem-oriented’, with the latter, of course, several steps away from being translated into health and social gains.

As can be seen from all of the above, I, through the Health and Social Care Unit I lead,  have grown the sholarship of health and social care and in so doing have nurtured the growth of Implementation Science knowledge. We are co-developing outcomes frameworks, implementation road maps, and evaluating major government-based initiatives, including: medtech innovation, Victorian Heart Hospital; Australian multicultural community cancer screening; Family Preservation & Reunification; Early Parenting Centres (EPCs).  

We are generating new Implementation Science knowledge including development of: 1) a Consumer and Community Involvement Process Implementation Model (led by Associate Professor Darsh Ayton); 2) a model of how frontline workers' critical thinking supports the consolidation of tacit and new knowledge and the use of Implementation Science (led by Dr Heather Morris); 3) a Multidisciplinary Implementation Model for Initiating Change (led by Drs Mandy O'Connor and Angela Melder); 4) methodology incorporating theoretical aspects of health economics and Implementation Science fields (led by PhD student Lane Carrandi); 4) as well as investigating 4) the effectiveness, theories of change and implementation of a Social-Emotional Engagement and Development Program for preschool children (led by Dr Claire Blewitt).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Honorary Professor, Deakin University

17 Nov 201717 Nov 2020

Research area keywords

  • Women's Health
  • Children's health
  • Pregnancy
  • Preconception
  • Healthy Living
  • Implementation science
  • Translation

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or